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Council Member Uncertain About Lead Paint Legislation
From El Diario
April 6, 2003

By Fernando Aquino

Among the ten Hispanic council members, the only one who has not supported legislation on lead poisoning is Erik Malave Dilan, who represents District 37 in Brooklyn.

In a phone conversation, Dilan told us on Friday that he “simply” is not signing among the sponsors of the bill, Intro101, but that he is waiting for the process to finish.

This degree of patience on the part of Dilan has come to the attention of the legislation’s promoters, especially since his district is in the area with the most lead poisoning incidents, representing 43 percent of new cases.

According to a Common Cause study, Dilan’s reason for not supporting the law is similar to that of Speaker Gifford Miller: money.

The Contributions

According to the study, during the 2001 campaign Dilan was supported by the real estate industry. Of the 20 large donations that he received, 15 came from people linked to this industry. Seven of these donations were collected by the intermediary John Doyle, who works for the Real Estate Board of New York. Of the 12 donations of more than $1000 that his campaign reported, 10 were from the real estate sector. In total, Dilan received more than $7,900 from members of the Rent Stabilization Association and the Real Estate Board of New York in 2001, and $1,750 from other committees with interest in this sector. The study indicates that Dilan has spoke emphatically against the new law.

Dilan didn’t deny that he has received money from the real estate industry, but he said that there is no connection between the money and his decision not to support the law.
For the moment, the council member considers that the current law, Intro 38, is working. “With this law, there has been a reduction of new cases by 60 percent,” he emphasized.

History Repeats Itself

The influence of the real estate sector among New York politicians has been great. The sector doesn’t shy from filling the pockets of those who guarantee to protect their interests with legislation.

There are the cases of ex-mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign from this sector and ex-speaker Peter Vallone, whom, thanks the donations he has received, has come out as an unconditional ally of building owners. It was Vallone who was principally responsible for adopting Intro 38, about lead poisoning. Since its approval, this law has been seen as protective of building owners.
In the Common Cause study, it is shown that the President of the Rent Stabilization Association, Joe Strasburg, was Vallone’s chief aide during the time that he served on the City Council’s housing committee.

Like Intro 101, when Intro 38 was approved, there was an alternative proposed by the council member Stanley Michael, which was supported by 34 council members and supported by health professionals. But Vallone never allowed it to leave the committees, while he pushed his own pro-real estate law forward, the study affirms.

Translated from Spanish by Erica Pearson

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